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Black Box Explains...Loose-tube vs. tight-buffered fiber optic cable.

There are two styles of fiber optic cable construction: loose tube and tight buffered. Both contain some type of strengthening member, such as aramid yarn, stainless steel wire strands, or... more/see it noweven gel-filled sleeves. But each is designed for very different environments.

Loose tube cables, the older of the two cable types, are specifically designed for harsh outdoor environments. They protect the fiber core, cladding, and coating by enclosing everything within semi-rigid protective sleeves or tubes. In loose-tube cables that hold more than one optical fiber, each individually sleeved core is bundled loosely within an all-encompassing outer jacket.

Many loose-tube cables also have a water-resistant gel that surrounds the fibers. This gel helps protect them from moisture, so the cables are great for harsh, high-humidity environments where water or condensation can be a problem. The gel-filled tubes can expand and contract with temperature changes, too.

But gel-filled loose-tube cables are not the best choice when cable needs to be submerged or where it’s routed around multiple bends. Excess cable strain can force fibers to emerge from the gel.

Tight-buffered cables, in contrast, are optimized for indoor applications. Because they’re sturdier than loose-tube cables, they’re best suited for moderate-length LAN/WAN connections, long indoor runs, and even direct burial. Tight-buffered cables are also recommended for underwater applications.

Instead of a gel layer or sleeve to protect the fiber core, tight-buffered cables use a two-layer coating. One is plastic; the other is waterproof acrylate. The acrylate coating keeps moisture away from the cable, like the gel-filled sleeves do for loose-tube cables. But this acrylate layer is bound tightly to the plastic fiber layer, so the core is never exposed (as it can be with gel-filled cables) when the cable is bent or compressed underwater.

Tight-buffered cables are also easier to install because there’s no messy gel to clean up and they don’t require a fan-out kit for splicing or termination. You can crimp connectors directly to each fiber.

Want the best of both worlds? Try a hybrid, breakout-style fiber optic cable, which combines tight-buffered cables within a loose-tube housing. collapse


Black Box Explains...Choosing the right headset.

Black Box offers several headsets for office use. Choosing the right one for your application depends on your needs.

First, do you need a monaural, binaural, or stereo headset? Monaural headsets... more/see it nowhave only one earpiece, making it easy to have over-the-phone conversations as well as face-to-face interactions, such as in a busy call center setting (see models HS402 or 64338-31, for example). Binaural headsets have two earpieces, which are on the same audio channel (HS113A or 2009-820-105). They are great when a user needs to have long, over-the-phone conversations. Stereo headpieces also have two earpieces, but operate on distinct audio channels. These last types of earpieces are best for listening to music.

Secondly, comfort is a big factor, especially if you have to wear a headset all day. Do you want an over-the-head model? Or would you prefer to wear your headset behind the ear? Headsets with two earpieces are almost always over-the-head models (see H16N). For long-wear applications and optimum sound quality, these are a good choice. Over-the-ear models are better for in-office interactions, or for when you are on and off the phone all day (26089-11 or M140). The sound quality is still excellent, but they enable you to also be aware of your environment.

Thirdly, choose an amplifier that matches your telephone and the way you work. The Two-Prong Carbon Amplifier (HS101A) is designed for phones that have a two-prong headset port. Several headsets have amplifiers built-in, such as the Elite Call Center Headset (HS111A).

Most Black Box headsets are noise-canceling models that reduce background sounds. They are ideal for busy office environments.

We have wireless headset models, plus cords, plugs, and adapters that enable extra mobility during calls. In addition, we carry extra parts such as earhooks, ear pads, headbands, and microphone covers. collapse


Black Box Explains...Selecting fiber line drivers.

When choosing a fiber driver, you should make a power budget, calculate the speed and distance of your cable run, and know the interface requirements of all your devices.

Many of... more/see it nowour fiber drivers are for single-mode fiber optic cable. Compared to multimode fiber, single-mode delivers up to 50 times more distance. And single-mode at full-duplex enables up to two times the data throughput of multimode fiber. collapse


Black Box Explains...SFP, SFP+, and XFP transceivers.

SFP, SFP+, and XFP are all terms for a type of transceiver that plugs into a special port on a switch or other network device to convert the port to... more/see it nowa copper or fiber interface. These compact transceivers replace the older, bulkier GBIC interface. Although these devices are available in copper, their most common use is to add fiber ports. Fiber options include multimode and single-mode fiber in a variety of wavelengths covering distances of up to 120 kilometers (about 75 miles), as well as WDM fiber, which uses two separate wavelengths to both send and receive data on a single fiber strand.

SFPs support speeds up to 4.25 Gbps and are generally used for Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet applications. The expanded SFP standard, SFP+, supports speeds of 10 Gbps or higher over fiber. XFP is a separate standard that also supports 10-Gbps speeds. The primary difference between SFP+ and the slightly older XFP standard is that SFP+ moves the chip for clock and data recovery into a line card on the host device. This makes an SFP+ smaller than an XFP, enabling greater port density.

Because all these compact transcievers are hot-swappable, there’s no need to shut down a switch to swap out a module—it’s easy to change interfaces on the fly for upgrades and maintenance.

Another characteristic shared by this group of transcievers is that they’re OSI Layer 1 devices—they’re transparent to data and do not examine or alter data in any way. Although they’re primarily used with Ethernet, they’re also compatible with uncommon or legacy standards such as Fibre Channel, ATM, SONET, or Token Ring.

Formats for SFP, SFP+, and XFP transceivers have been standardized by multisource agreements (MSAs) between manufacturers, so physical dimensions, connectors, and signaling are consistent and interchangeable. Be aware though that some major manufacturers, notably Cisco, sell network devices with slots that lock out transceivers from other vendors. collapse


Black Box Explains...LAN switches.



Rush hour-all day, every day.

Applications such as document imaging, video/multimedia production, and intranetworking are very demanding. They generate huge data files that often must be transferred... more/see it nowbetween stations based on strict timing requirements. If such traffic is not transmitted efficiently, you end up with jerky video, on-screen graphics that take forever to load, or other irritating, debilitating problems.


These problems arise because in traditional LANs, only one network node transmits data at a time while all other stations listen. This works in conventional, server-based LANs where multiple workstations share files or applications housed on a central server. But if a network has several servers, or if it supports high-bandwidth, peer-to-peer applications such as videoconferencing, the one-station-at-a-time model just doesn’t work.


Ideally, each LAN workstation should be configured with its own dedicated LAN cable segment. But that’s neither practical nor affordable. A far more reasonable solution is a network designed to provide clear paths from each workstation to its destination on demand, whether that destination is another workstation or server.


These vehicles clear the lanes.

Unlike bridges and routers, which process data packets on an individual, first-come, first-served basis, switches maintain multiple, simultaneous data conversions among attached LAN segments.


From the perspective of an end-user workstation, a switched circuit appears to be a dedicated connection-a direct, full-speed LAN link to an attached server or other remote LAN node. Although this technique is somewhat different from what a LAN bridge or router does, switching hubs are based on similar technologies.




Which route will you choose?

Switching hubs that use bridging technologies are called Layer 2 switches-a reference to Layer 2 or the Data-Link Layer of the OSI Model. These switches operate using the MAC addresses in Layer 2 and are transparent to network protocols. Switches that use routing technologies are known as Layer 3 switches, referring to Layer 3—the Network Layer—of the OSI Model. These switches, like routers, represent the next higher level of intelligence in the hardware hierarchy. Rather than passing packets based on MAC addresses, these switches look into the data structure and route it based on the network addresses found in Layer 3. They are also dependent on the network protocol.


Layer 2 switches connect different parts of the same network as determined by the network number contained with the data packet. Layer 3 switches connect LANs or LAN segments with different network numbers.


If you’re subdividing an existing LAN, obviously you’re dealing with only one network and one network number, so you can install a Layer 2 switch wherever it will segment network traffic the best, and you don’t have to reconfigure the LAN. However, if you use a Layer 3 switch, you’ll have to reconfigure the segments to ensure that each has a different network number.


Similarly, if you’re connecting existing networks, you have to examine the currently configured network numbers before adding a switch. If the network numbers are the same, you need to use a Layer 2 switch. If they’re different, you must use a Layer 3 switch.


When dealing with multiple existing networks, you’ll find they usually use different network numbers. In this case, it’s preferable to use a Layer 3 switch (or possibly even a full-featured router) to avoid reconfiguring the network.


But what if you’re designing a network from scratch and can choose either type of switch? Your decision should be based on the expected complexity of your LAN. Layer 3 routing technology is well suited for complex networks. Layer 2 switches are recommended for smaller, less complex networks.

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Black Box Explains...Cabinet accessories.

Once you’ve chosen your cabinet, whether it be a customized Elite or an energy-saving ClimateCab, it’s time to add accessories for even more function.

Cabinets have two sets of rails,... more/see it nowfront and back, where you can mount shelves, trays, cable managers, and power strips.

Shelves
Shelves are an easy solution for storing things that aren’t rackmountable. The shelves attach to the rails; servers or other equipment sits on the shelves. Make sure the shelf has the weight capacity you need—some can hold hundreds of pounds. For easy access to components in your cabinet, choose a sliding shelf. There are also vented shelves that improve air circulation within the cabinet.

Although most shelves fit 19" rails, there are shelves that go on the less-common 23" rails. There are also brackets that can adapt many devices intended for 19" mounting to 23" rails.

Keyboard trays
Keyboard trays are space-saving solutions that also keep your data center organized. They slide neatly into your cabinet or rack—and out of your way—when not in use. And they usually fit into only 1U of rack space.

KVM trays
Further reduce clutter in your server room by using KVM trays that are 1- or 2U high mounted in your cabinet. Special features of Black Box® KVM trays include rock-solid construction, LEDs on the front panel for easy location in a darkened data center, and integrated KVM switching.

Front-panel controls enable you to use the buttons on a monitor bezel without pulling out the keyboard. Some trays have USB ports for access.

Cable managers
Cabinets usually have built-in troughs for cable routing, knockouts for cable pass-throughs, and tie-off points for cable management. You can also add horizontal or vertical cable managers to the cabinet’s rails to manage and route cables more efficiently. Cable managers control bend radius to protect cables from hidden crushes, kinks, and snags, and reduce maintenance time by keeping your cabinet neat and organized. Plus, properly managed cables help to improve airflow.

SpaceGAIN
If you’ve got no room to spare in your cabinet, think SpaceGAIN. You might not think of a patch panel as an “accessory,” but SpaceGAIN angled-port and angled patch panels are not your average panels. They free up valuable space and eliminate the need for horizontal cable managers. You save time and money by routing cables directly into ports. And SpaceGAIN high-density feed-through patch panels enable you to fit 48 ports into only 1U of rack space, with no punchdowns needed.

To save even more space, use SpaceGAIN 90° Right-Angle CAT5e/CAT6 cables. Their up, down, left, or right angles save up to 4" of space in crowded cabinets.

PDUs and UPSs
Control the distribution of power in your cabinet with a power distribution unit (PDU). A PDU can be basic or “intelligent,” with surge protection, remote management, or power and environmental monitoring. Integrate a PDU directly into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for extra reliability.

Fans and blowers
Ventilation in your cabinets is critical for keeping vital equipment cool.

An enclosure blower draws cool air from a raised floor at the bottom of the cabinet and delivers it right across the front of servers or other network components. It fits on standard 19" rails and uses only 2U of mounting space. This high level of ventilation lowers the temperature of cabinet hot spots by up to 15° F. Lowering temperatures protects your electronics against failure caused by overheating, which may enable you to install more equipment.

Fan panels or fan trays direct maximum airflow with very little noise to heat-sensitive rackmounted equipment. Position them in your cabinet wherever you need them the most.

Most network devices take in air through their front panels and expel it out the back. Filler panels in unused rack spaces help keep cool air in the front of the cabinet where it can be used by the equipment.

Security
Most cabinets come with a lock and key, but more advanced options are available to provide a higher level of security. Keyless options include combination locks and biometric locks that read fingerprints. collapse


Black Box Explains...Multimode vs. single-mode Fiber.

Multimode, 50- and 62.5-micron cable.
Multimode cable has a large-diameter core and multiple pathways of light. It comes in two core sizes: 50-micron and 62.5-micron.

Multimode fiber optic cable can be... more/see it nowused for most general data and voice fiber applications, such as bringing fiber to the desktop, adding segments to an existing network, and in smaller applications such as alarm systems. Both 50- and 62.5-micron cable feature the same cladding diameter of 125 microns, but 50-micron fiber cable features a smaller core (the light-carrying portion of the fiber).

Although both can be used in the same way, 50-micron cable is recommended for premise applications (backbone, horizontal, and intrabuilding connections) and should be considered for any new construction and installations. Both also use either LED or laser light sources. The big difference between the two is that 50-micron cable provides longer link lengths and/or higher speeds, particularly in the 850-nm wavelength.

Single-mode, 8–10-micron cable.
Single-mode cable has a small, 8–10-micron glass core and only one pathway of light. With only a single wavelength of light passing through its core, single-mode cable realigns the light toward the center of the core instead of simply bouncing it off the edge of the core as multimode does.

Single-mode cable provides 50 times more distance than multimode cable. Consequently, single-mode cable is typically used in long-haul network connections spread out over extended areas, including cable television and campus backbone applications. Telcos use it for connections between switching offices. Single-mode cable also provides higher bandwidth, so you can use a pair of single-mode fiber strands full-duplex for up to twice the throughput of multimode fiber.

Specification comparison:

50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber

850-nm Wavelength:
Bandwidth: 500 MHz/km;
Attenuation: 3.5 dB/km;
Distance: 550 m;

1300-nm Wavelength:
Bandwidth: 500 MHz/km;
Attenuation: 1.5 dB/km;
Distance: 550 m

62.5-/125-Miron Multimode Fiber

850-nm Wavelength:
Bandwidth: 160 MHz/km;
Attenuation: 3.5 dB/km;
Distance: 220 m;

1300-nm Wavelength:
Bandwidth: 500 MHz/km;
Attenuation: 1.5 dB/km;
Distance: 500 m

8–10-Micron Single-Mode Fiber

Premise Application:
Wavelength: 1310 nm and 1550 nm;
Attenuation: 1.0 dB/km;

Outside Plant Application:
Wavelength: 1310 nm and 1550 nm;
Attenuation: 0.1 dB/km collapse


Black Box Explains... PCI buses

A Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Bus enhances both speed and throughput. A PCI Local Bus is a high-performance bus that provides a processor-independent data path between the CPU and high-speed... more/see it nowperipherals. PCI is a robust interconnect interface designed specifically to accommodate multiple high-performance peripherals for graphics, full-motion video, SCSI, and LANs. collapse


Black Box Explains...10-Gigabit Ethernet.

10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE), ratified in June 2002, is a logical extension of previous Ethernet versions. 10-GbE was designed to make the transition from LANs to Wide Area Networks (WANs) and... more/see it nowMetropolitan Area Networks (MANs). It offers a cost-effective migration for high-performance and long-haul transmissions at up to 40 kilometers. Its most common application now is as a backbone for high-speed LANs, server farms, and campuses.

10-GbE supports existing Ethernet technologies. It uses the same layers (MAC, PHY, and PMD), and the same frame sizes and formats. But the IEEE 802.3ae spec defines two sets of physical interfaces: LAN (LAN PHY) and WAN (WAN PHY). The most notable difference between 10-GbE and previous Ethernets is that 10-GbE operates in full-duplex only and specifies fiber optic media.

At a glance—Gigabit vs. 10-Gigabit Ethernet

Gigabit
• CSMA/CD + full-duplex
• Leveraged Fibre Channel PMDs
• Reused 8B/10B coding
• Optical/copper media
• Support LAN to 5 km
• Carrier extension

10-Gigabit Ethernet
• Full-duplex only
• New optical PMDs
• New coding scheme 64B/66B
• Optical (developing copper)
• Support LAN to 40 km
• Throttle MAC speed for WAN
• Use SONET/SDH as Layer 1 transport

The alphabetical coding for 10-GbE is as follows:
S = 850 nm
L = 1310 nm
E = 1550 nm
X = 8B/10B signal encoding
R = 66B encoding
W = WIS interface (for use with SONET).

10-GbE
10GBASE-SR — Distance: 300 m; Wavelength: 850 nm; Cable: Multimode
10GBASE-SW — Distance: 300 m; Wavelength: 850 nm; Cable: Multimode
10GBASE-LR — Distance: 10 km; Wavelength: 1310 nm; Cable: Single-Mode
10GBASE-LW — Distance: 10 km; Wavelength: 1310 nm; Cable: Single-Mode
10GBASE-LX4 — Distance: Multimode 300 m, Single-Mode 10 km; Wavelength: Multimode 1310 nm, Single-Mode WWDM; Cable: Multimode or Single-Mode
10GBASE-ER — Distance: 40 km; Wavelength: 1550 nm; Cable: Single-Mode
10GBASE-EW — Distance: 40 km; Wavelength: 550 nm; Cable: Single-Mode
10GBASE-CX4* — Distance: 15 m; Wavelength: Cable: 4 x Twinax
10GBASE-T* — Distance: 25–100 m; Wavelength: Cable: Twisted Pair
* Proposed for copper. collapse


Black Box Explains... Coax cables for ServSwitch products.

What’s the difference between standard and coax cables for ServSwitch™ products? Performance! Coax cables are made with premium-gauge wire, so they can be made in longer lengths. That means you... more/see it nowcan move your workstation up to 100 feet (30.4 m) from your ServSwitch. Plus coax cables have even more shielding to maintain the signal quality and strength you need. If you require high-resolution video or long distances, this is the cable you need! collapse

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